Digital Diwali: Celebs, entrepreneurs, and chefs on how they plan to celebrate the festival of lights amid the pandemic

As the pandemic continues unabated globally, people are finding innovative ways to celebrate the festivals of the season. Here’s how some founders, chefs, and celebs plan to celebrate Diwali this year.
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Typically, lights, colours, and fireworks would have already lit up the skies in the run-up to the festivities this weekend. But with low-key celebrations being planned amid the pandemic, there is a quieter mood in the air this year.

Decorations and celebrations are low-key this year

Many people are planning a digital Diwali, which will involve greeting each other on meet-up apps or sharing a meal via video chat. Some will join concerts, parties, and live stream events virtually. Those who do venture out, will do so in contained groups and mingle only with close family and friends.

Here’s a round-up of what some founders, celebs, chefs, and entrepreneurs are planning to do for the festival, and how they going to adjust to the new normal.

Natasha Celmi of Cucina Mia, chef and award-winning author

Natasha Celmi

“This Diwali is a quiet one for us. Usually, the festivities start a week prior to the actual day with Diwali card, parties, and lots of shopping for ethnic attire.

However, this year I will only be holding a small puja at home with my husband and kids. We will still enjoy the festive spirit by decorating the house, dressing up in Indian clothes, making rangolis, and enjoying a special homemade dinner.

As every cloud has a silver lining, this one does too. We won't be consuming as many calories and indulgent food as we usually do and we will have more time to focus on the spiritual aspect of the festival. I have been doing a lot of Diwali cleaning for sure!

Deepti Sadhwani, actor

Deepti Sadhwani

This Diwali will be a low-key affair for me with a simple puja with close family and friends and without any crackers due to the increase in air pollution levels in our country.

Social distancing cannot be ignored, so we will not be holding or joining big gatherings and there will be no cards parties either. This Diwali will be a private affair and we will celebrate with close family and friends only.

Malini Agarwal, Founder, MissMalini Entertainment

Malini Agarwal

This Diwali is definitely different from previous ones. For me, Diwali has always been about spending time with friends and family and celebrating things that I am thankful for.

In a sense, I will be celebrating Diwali in the same way but in much smaller groups this time. I am super excited about dressing up, as I haven’t dressed up in quite a while during the pandemic.

We will have some yummy food and drinks, but no crackers at all. Just spending some time with friends and the long weekend is always nice, and even though we have all been at home, it’s nice to get a full weekend off.

Lakshmi Sankar, Co-founder, Atta Galatta and Bengaluru Poetry Festival

Lakshmi Sankar

This Diwali has been the first in many years where we cannot meet friends and family. We have decided to spread some cheer and send gift hampers with sweets and gifts to all our loved ones.

We look forward to meeting a few close friends in a socially distanced gathering over Diwali weekend to lift up our spirits. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this festive season.

Hitesh Bhojraj, actor, singer, and voice over artist

Hitesh Bhojraj

This Diwali, my family and I are deliberately making sure that we give business to local vendors. All our Diwali shopping, be it for gifts or sweets, has been local, as it’s been particularly tough on them during this pandemic.

For every festival, my family and I associate with NGOs and organisations that we think are doing some amazing work towards causes that are close to our hearts, This Diwali too, we are doing the same.

Ashish Chanchlani, YouTuber

Ashish Chanchlani

Diwali has been one of my favourite festivals since childhood. I used to get so excited about mithai, new clothes, and bursting firecrackers with friends.

This year, due to the pandemic, it's going to be different but interesting as we all are home with our families and wishing our friends on a video call and giving them hugs virtually. This year, it's going to be an ‘Indoor Diwali’.

We have been buying decorative items from the stores but this time we planned to be a little creative and make them at home using some DIY ideas. I am also going to try making some sweets at home.

Aditi Handa, Co-Founder and Head Baker, The Baker’s Dozen

Aditi Handa

This year, Diwali will be an emotional affair for every member of the family, as, during the lockdown, we have been a strong pillar of each other’s strength.

On a personal level, it is really about celebrating how this year the entire family has got more time to spend together, with mothers now becoming part-time teachers and everyone taking up more responsibilities.

As a family, we will be visiting a cow farm nearby to experience how farmers take such good care of their cows, the way they feed them and nurture them. On both personal and professional level, we wish to do something better for our community as they deserve a Diwali full of happiness.

On the professional front, we at the Baker's Dozen decided to 'Gift a Light' and support the third generation Patan Patola Weavers by collaborating with the Patan’s Salvi family and launched the entire festive range of ‘#HandmadeArt Collection’ inspired by Patola Art. This beautiful weave is acknowledged by connoisseurs as a traditional and ancient art that needs to be preserved and promoted.

For me, Diwali is not just celebrating with the family but it is to do things that bring light to other's life as well.

Nitin Arora, actor and entrepreneur

Nitin Arora

Diwali is not just the name of the most celebrated festival in India, but it is also a day of celebration that evokes so many emotions. When you think of Diwali, words like ‘joy’, ‘happiness’, ‘a new beginning’ instantly pop into your head.

The festival epitomises light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance, but during this pandemic, most people have opted to celebrate in a very low-key manner.

However, nobody seems to be holding back completely this year despite the grim situation. They seem to be finding new ways to celebrate the big day. The usual parties and exchanging of gifts, which used take place, will not happen this year and we are buying eco-friendly diyas for our homes instead of bursting crackers.

Also, card parties are not the same as they used to be. Most people are inviting smaller groups like four or five friends and families to their homes to play cards and celebrate the festival.

Rahul Aggarwal, Founder and CEO, Coffeeza

Rahul Aggarwal and Suchita Aggarwal

Diwali has always been about celebrating the day with my family, which will be the highlight this year as well.

This year, my family has decided on celebrating a green and safe Diwali. So, there will be no usage of fireworks or firecrackers of any kind.

Our normal festive preparations will begin with getting the house cleaned, followed by decorating the rooms with flowers, eco-friendly diyas, and of course, rangoli.

On Diwali, everyone will be dressed in new clothes, and the family will get together for the puja. After that, we all will sit together and enjoy a traditional Indian meal served with our favourite sweets.

As we cannot go out to meet relatives or friends this year, we will call them and share greetings over voice or video calls.

Mrigank Singh, chef and Founder, Ghosht Stories, a mutton-focussed cloud kitchen

Mrigank

Indian festivals are my favourite times of the year! Getting together with the family, setting up the rangoli, arranging Taash night with friends and of course, mithai!

Every year, without fail, I prepare my favourite kheer, a classic for everyone, including me, to enjoy! This year, however, things are a little different. We will be holding smaller gatherings, so that’s a bit of a downer, but the one thing I have kept constant is the kheer.

With Ghosht Stories now operational, I have been able to share my love of Kheer with a bigger crowd and this makes me happier than ever. I've also included this in my ‘Festive Spread’ so that we can be a small part of everyone's festive gatherings.

Other than that, wearing an Indian kurta and enjoying a Taash night is a must! I have also received a ton of mithai boxes from my friends and relatives that I will enjoy during the festival.

Celebrating Diwali this year is a little different, but I don’t think the spirit of the festivities has not gone anywhere, and I think Diwali will be as enjoyable as it is every year!

Edited by Megha Reddy